Overview of Programs
The NATIONAL LONGHOUSE® programs were developed and are administered by National Longhouse, Ltd. These programs emphasize the vital role that parents play in the growth and development of their children. The original program plan of sons learning directly from their father was patterned from the tradition of some North American Indian cultural groups. These programs seek to strengthen the foundations for a positive lifelong relationship between parent and child that is mutually beneficial and satisfying.
There are two main groups of NATIONAL LONGHOUSE® programs:
These programs are for the parent and pre-adolescent child. They incorporate age-appropriate recreation of light or medium activity, which revolves around a structured North American Indian theme, and are designed to strengthen parent-child, spiritual, neighborhood, and inter-communal bonds.
These programs are for the parent and adolescent child or teenager. They incorporate age-appropriate recreation that is more physically or mentally challenging, which places less emphasis on a program theme, and are designed to strengthen parent-child, spiritual, neighborhood, and inter-communal bonds.
Each of the two main groups of NATIONAL LONGHOUSE® programs consist of sub-programs which are gender-based versions dedicated to specific parent-child combinations. Local affiliates determine which versions are to be offered based upon their community’s preference and/or size of enrollment.
There are four versions of the NATIVE SONS AND DAUGHTERS PROGRAMS® family activites for any of the following combinations of either mother or father enrolled with their son(s) or daughter(s):
- NATIVE DADS AND SONS® program
- NATIVE DADS AND DAUGHTERS℠ program
- NATIVE MOMS AND SONS® program
- NATIVE MOMS AND DAUGHTERS® program
All versions offer the same program format and theme. However, because of the differing interests between boys and girls, some activities may vary slightly between the Sons versions and the Daughters versions. (e.g. tug-of-war for boys, sock hop for girls, etc.)
Availability of each version is dependent upon the size of participation in your local area. In some instances, the number of participants of one version may be insufficient to sustain itself as a completely independent program. Major activities such as campouts may be combined or shared with another version. (e.g. A local program may have twelve tribes of moms and daughters but only two tribes of moms and sons. The NATIVE MOMS AND SONS® program might have to share a campground with the NATIVE MOMS AND DAUGHTERS® program. Depending on the decisions made by the local program, the two versions may share or have their own separate campout activities.)
There are multiple versions of the new NS&D PATHFINDERS℠ program for combinations of mother, father, son(s), or daughter(s). Official names for these new versions will be forthcoming. Local affiliates determine which versions are to be offered based upon their community’s preference and/or size of enrollment. Versions offered will be one or more of the following:
- Dads and sons
- Dads and daughters
- Moms and sons
- Moms and daughters
- Dads, sons, and daughters
- Moms, sons, and daughters
- Family (Moms, dads, sons, daughters)
All versions offer the same format. These programs differ from the above program group due to age-appropriate activities that are more physically and mentally challenging which place less emphasis on a program theme. Parents and young adults experience canoeing trips, cave sleep-ins, rock climbing, rocketry and more.
As the program name indicates, the young participants are given opportunities to “find” their “path” in life. Adults take more of a “back-seat” role in running operations and allow the young adults to pilot the program. The adolescent/teens elect program officers, run meetings, select outings, assign tasks, and evaluate the successes and failures of their events. Doing so, allows leadership skills to be developed, provides a greater sense of independence, permits them to think and problem-solve on their own, which builds self-confidence. These are skills which they will all need in their upcoming years when they start college or begin their adult life.
The parents are there share in the experience while providing moral, logistical, and operational support. They help to steer the program back on course when the kids become too ambitious or select projects that are “over their heads.” The adults also handle legal matters (such as the signing of contracts with camps or event facilities), or the overseeing of the financial matters (such as the depositing or disbursements of funds).
No matter what program or what version you are enrolled in, the program will aid your child or young adult in developing emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Most importantly, you will share fun activities, experiences, and memories together!
These versions are designed for the pre-adolescent child with the recommended age of five or above. Activities are kept brief, varied, and visually interesting to retain the short attention span of young children. Although age is recommended, the final decision for what age to enroll a child is always left to the parent. Generally, most children in the program are of ages 5-8 (grades K-3) but its not unusual for members to be as young as pre-school and as old as early teens. When determining whether or not your child is too young or old for enrollment, parents are advised to take the following into consideration:
What are the ages of the other children in the tribe you will be joining (if known)?
A child that is too young might have difficulty participating in activities tailored for a tribe with mostly older children. Likewise, a child that is too old might consider activities fitted for a younger tribe as being “too childish.” A tribe with mixed ages is usually ideal. However in some instances, it may be possible to request a child of a non-recommended age to be placed in a more age-appropriate tribe.
Are there other friends, classmates, or siblings enrolled?
Normally this isn’t a deciding factor. It usually doesn’t take long for children to make new friends within a tribe. However, with regards to a child that is border line of being too young or old, this can be a real plus. A child that is possibly too young may be less apprehensive to try new activities when the experience is shared with friends, classmates, or an older sibling to serve as a mentor. A child that is possibly too old may be less apt to become bored when activities can be shared with friends or a younger sibling to mentor.
How self-confident or self-conscious is your child?
A child that is younger than the recommended age should have enough self confidence to perform activities without “clinging to the parent’s side” and should be able to sleep in a dimly lit setting — usually in dormitory-style cabins with the parent and other tribe members. A child that might be considered too old might have a more enjoyable time if he or she is not too self-conscious. In most instances, this occurs in the Native Dads and Daughters℠ version, where the older adolescent girl begins to feel uncomfortable sleeping in the same cabin with her dad and other fathers. However in tribes with predominately older girls, this can sometimes be resolved by allowing the girls to sleep in one cabin and the dads in another.
These versions are designed for the older child with a recommended age of adolescent or older. Due to activities of a more physically or mentally challenging nature, most affiliates have a minimum enrollment age which varies locally from age 9 (grade 4) to age 12 (grade 6). Parents with a more mature pre-adolescent wishing to join may discuss enrollment with local program leaders. Generally, most young adults in the program are of ages 9-16 (grades 4-13) but it’s not unusual for members to be as young as 3rd grade and as old as high school senior. When determining whether or not your child is too young or old, parents are advised to take the following into consideration:
What are the ages of the other young adults in the group that you will be joining (if known)?
Because enrollment in the NS&D PATHFINDERS℠ Programs is generally smaller than the NATIVE SONS AND DAUGHTERS℠ Programs, members are assembled into a “group (or groups)” instead of tribes. A child that is too young (such as 4th grade) might have difficulty participating in activities tailored for a group with mostly older young adults (such as high school sophmores). Likewise, a young adult that is too old might consider activities fitted for a younger group as being “too childish or boring.” A group with mixed ages is usually ideal.
Are there other friends, classmates, or siblings enrolled?
Normally this isn’t a deciding factor. It usually doesn’t take long for young adults to make new friends within a group. However, with regards to a young adult that is border line of being too young or old, this can be a real plus. An adolescent that is possibly too young may be less apprehensive to try new activities when the experience is shared with friends, classmates, or an older sibling to serve as a mentor. A young adult that is possibly too old may be less apt to become bored when activities can be shared with friends or a younger sibling to mentor.
How self-confident or fitted is your adolescent/teenager to the program?
In order to prevent lowering one’s self-esteem, a child that is younger than the recommended age should have enough self-confidence and physical/mental abilities to perform the activities of the group. It is advisable that prior to enrolling, parents get a rough idea of scheduled activities by discussing it with program leaders.
Membership Groupings… the Center Of All Activity
The NATIVE SONS AND DAUGHTERS PROGRAMS® family activites assembles the parent and child into “tribes.” A tribe consists of six to nine fathers (or six to nine mothers) and their sons or daughters. The tribe meets in the members’ homes on a rotating basis, usually once or twice a month. Parent and child are the basic unit of the program, and the other members of their family support their experience together with the tribe. The family also shares in some of the program experiences and events. Program opportunities in which the parent and child participate in include: crafts, Indian lore, games, songs, stories, outings, service projects, and camping. For more information, please refer to the web pages titled under “Tribal Information.”
Because of generally smaller enrollment size, each NS&D PATHFINDERS℠ program assembles their parents and young adults into one large group (or groups for larger programs). A group usually consists of 10 to 50 parent/child units who enjoy activities and events together. They elect group leaders from their young adults. The group leaders in turn hold meetings, plan activities, and assign tasks to volunteers. The group also elects program officers from the parents. The officers provide support to the youth leaders especially with overseeing financial accounts or legal matters (signing of event contracts), and serve as liasons to the trustees of the local longhouse corporation.
The Longhouse is the Hub for Tribes/Group
The local organization that offers the NATIONAL LONGHOUSE® programs is a subsidiary of National Longhouse, Ltd. and is referred to as a “longhouse.” All of the tribes or groups that are created within a geographical area belong to, and are represented by a specific longhouse. The longhouse provides administrative services to the programs and their versions as well as sponsoring events such campouts, Pinewood Derbies, dances, etc.
In longhouses with a large number of tribes, there may be an intermediary grouping referred to as a “nation.” Tribes will be grouped into two or more nations. Each nation will provide its own intermediary administrative support and multi-tribe events in addition to that which is provided by the longhouse. For more information on nations, please refer the web pages titled under “Organization.”
The Theme… North American Indigenous Cultures
The lives and cultures of North American indigenous people are positive supports to strengthening the parent-child relationship, which is the theme of the NATIVE SONS AND DAUGHTERS PROGRAMS® family activites. The exciting heritage of the first North Americans allows the interest, imagination, and understanding of the parent and child to grow in many ways. The NATIVE SONS AND DAUGHTERS PROGRAMS® family activites seek to capture the best in the lives, customs, values, and legacies of these proud and spiritually sensitive people in order to bolster and reinforce the participants’own search, as parent and child, for happy experiences and a constructive future.
The NS&D PATHFINDERS℠ program places less emphasis on the theme for general activities and usually reserves it for ceremonies.
Our programs offer a wide variety of activities in which parent and child can enjoy. Although members are encouraged to participate in all events, attendance is always elective and never mandatory. Depending on local tradition, most local programs reward attendance to major events or campouts with a memoribilia item such as a patch, hat, T-shirt, pin, etc. In most instances, activities will be offered on a pay-as-you-go basis.
The NATIVE SONS AND DAUGHTERS PROGRAMS® Events and Activities
All program events and activities fall into four categories: tribal, longhouse, nation (optional), and special:
There are generally three types of tribe activities: meeting, outing, and parents’ meeting.
Each tribe will decided on what type of activities to offer during its monthly or bimonthly meetings. Generally, the responsibility for providing an activity or a meeting place will be shared among the tribe’s families on a rotating basis. Such activities usually include an opening and closing ceremony, singing a song, reading a story, playing a game, making a craft, and sharing a snack.
Each tribe may elect to have outings or field trips in addition to the meetings. Such activities could include anything from dining out for a pizza to visiting a museum.
Parents within a tribe may elect to hold occasional “parents only” meetings to discuss or plan future tribe outings. This is usually done separately to prevent regular tribe meetings from becoming lengthy or boring for the children.
The longhouse will usually provide activities in addition to those offered by the tribe. Longhouse activities will differ from those offered by a tribe because they will be designed for multi-tribe participation. There are three types of longhouse activities: events, campouts, and meetings (for officers).
All of the tribes within a longhouse will be invited to participate in periodic events. Such events can include, bowling, roller skating, parties, Pinewood Derbies, dances, etc.
A longhouse may elect to offer campouts in addition to longhouse events and tribe activities. Campouts may be offered fall, winter, spring, or even in summer with a special family campout in which all family members can participate. With large longhouses that also have nations, the seasonal campouts are provided by each nation instead. The longhouse may then elect to provide a summer or family campout.
For those participants who volunteer to a rank of tribal chief or higher, there will be mandatory administrative meetings to discuss or plan the budget, upcoming events, or campouts. Meetings are usually held monthly.
Nation Activities (OPTIONAL)
For those large longhouses that have the intermediary “nation” groupings, there will be additional nation activities provided. As with longhouse activities, nation activities will involve multi-tribe participation, but only for those tribes that are grouped within that particular nation. In situations where the pure number of participants makes holding longhouse activities unmanageable, individual nation activities will be in lieu of most of the longhouse activities. There are three type of nation activities: events, campouts, and meetings (for officers).
All of the tribes within each nation will be invited to participate in periodic events. Such events can include, bowling, roller skating, parties, Pinewood Derbies, dances, etc.
A nation may elect to offer campouts in addition to nation events and tribe or longhouse activities. Campouts may be offered seasonally in fall, winter, spring, or even more frequently. There may also be a special nation summer or family campout in which all family members can participate.
For those participants who volunteer to a rank of tribal chief or nation officer, there will be mandatory administrative meetings to discuss or plan the nation budget, upcoming nation events, or campouts. Meetings are usually held monthly.
In addition to the basic activities offered by the tribe, nation, or longhouse, there may be optional state, regional, or national activities available. Such activities can include campouts, conventions, training workshops, etc. Regional and national meetings are also held for program administrators/representatives of the Regional Advisory Lodges and National Longhouse, Ltd.
NS&D PATHFINDERS℠ Activities
These activities incorporate age-appropriate recreation that is more physically or mentally challenging and are designed to strengthen parent-child, spiritual, neighborhood, and inter-communal bonds. The youths of the group select the year’s activity agenda and the parents provide logistical support. Activities such as canoeing, rock climbing, or tent camping provide physical challenges that build character. Community service projects strengthens team concepts and reinforces one’s spiritual foundations by providing missionary work that encompasses our motto… “you help yourself by helping others.”